Tag Archives: The Register

Hydrogen fuel cell tech to power the IoT

Earlier this week, The Register’s Bob Dormon attended Twickenham’s Future World Symposium.

Since many of the UK-based vendors displayed handheld devices and sensor nodes supporting the Internet of Things (IoT), keeping power consumption down, or at the very least making it practical, was understandably a clear priority for many of the exhibitors.

“[That is why] London-based outfit Arcola Energy strives to deliver the best of both worlds with its adaptations of hydrogen fuel cell tech,” Dormon writes.

Image Credit: Bob Dormon, The Register

“As an integrator, the company covers a broad scale of fuel cell applications from transportation to providing remote power sources. It also caters for developers with its kits, complete with an [Atmel-based] Arduino Uno board (ATmega328 MCU) starting at £350 ($591) … There’s mbed compatibility too.”

According to Dormin, the dev kits allow engineers to precisely determine what type of energy lifespan they can can expect from a design.

“Besides the boards and fuel cell shield electronic controller, you get a refillable 12 litre HydroStik hydride that feeds a shiny metal box complete with fan that is the actual fuel cell,” he explained. “The fuel cell determines the overall output of the system. With the Arduino One kit it’s 1.5W.”

Interested in learning more about Arcola Energy’s fuel cell kits? Developers can find Arcola’s software for the fuel cell inventor kit on Github here, while the full text of Bob Dormon’s “Inventors: Feast your eyes on fuel cell tech that’ll power up Internet of Thingies” can be read on The Register here.

PAVA 9 is a sleek ATmega328P-based tracker

Anthony Stirk – a member of The Register’s Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) project – has designed a sleek miniature tracker powered by Atmel’s ATmega328P microcontroller (MCU).

Dubbed Pava 9, the platform was inspired by Stirk’s goal to create the lightest tracker possible, with a run time suitable for long-distance High Altitude Ballooning (HAB) flights.

“The heart of the tracker is [Atmel’s] ATmega328P microcontroller as favored by the Arduino Uno, however in this guise it’s underclocked running at 2MHz to help with power consumption,” Stirk told Lester Haines of The Register.

“A snap-off programming header reduces the overall weight to 2.5g. Connected to the board is a u-blox MAX7C GPS module. The whole thing runs at 1.8V and can be powered either by a separate step-up or a LiPo+solar charger board… Power savings over the previous board are quite significant, giving 40 per cent more run time.”

According to Stirk, the original Pava utilized an off-the-shelf RFM22B radio transmitter, which experienced a number of issues with frequency drift due to temperature. Plus, it lacked support for modes such as DominoEX and THOR.

“[So] I decided to make a custom radio for this tracker based around SI’s 4060 transmitter chip. Making it myself meant I could choose all the components and ensure they work at the lower temperatures,” he explained.

“A TCXO (temperature-compensated crystal oscillator) ensures a stable frequency. The choice of frequency, although out of spec for the radio module, opens up the board to doing MFSK DominoEX and THOR modes.”

Before launching stratowards aboard the Vulture 2, the PAVA 9 is scheduled to relay telemetry during LOHAN’s “Punch” and “Judy” upcoming test flights.

Interested in learning more? You can check out The Register’s full write up here, the LOHAN project page here and Anthony Stirk’s PAVA project page here.